Archive for the ‘review’ tag
“I was bombarded with self-indulgent whining and a lot of religion that didn’t feel universal enough to be empathized with at all.”
“If I had it to do over again, I’d spend my money on another book.”
“…I was annoyed at her whiny, martyr-like tone.”
Those are all reviews I found on Amazon for the book A Walk with Jane Austen: A Journey into Adventure, Love & Faith by Lori Smith.
I hadn’t read any of those reviews before I picked up the book from my local library. The only thing I had read was the blurb on the back of the book that promised readers they would travel through “landscapes Jane knew and loved-from Bath and Lyme, to London and the Hampshire countryside…”.
But by about page 30 I knew this book wasn’t going to give me what I was looking for. It wasn’t going to live up to that blurb promise.
Instead, it became clear that I would spend the next couple hundred pages learning about the author, not about Jane Austen and her life in England. It was around that time that I realized I wasn’t all that interested in the author and her quest to find a good man. And it was when Lori Smith declared “Christian guys beyond a certain age are weird” that I realized this book just wasn’t for me.
If you still want to read this book, please don’t be put off by this review or any of the others on Amazon. Many people had positive things to say about it, and part of me feels a bit guilty for not giving it a few more pages before returning it to the library. Maybe I would have started to care about Lori’s journey a bit more. And then again, maybe not.
I am, however, still interested in reading Lori Smith’s upcoming book, The Jane Austen Guide to Life: Thoughtful Lessons for the Modern Woman. And I’m still searching for a travel book for Jane Austen’s England, so if you’ve read any good ones please let me know.
A warning about Lunch in Paris: don’t read it if you’re hungry. It won’t end well for you.
The descriptions of food and meals in Paris are definitely the best thing about this book. I’m partial to dessert myself, and the recipes included are all worth trying.
I’ve categorized this as a literary travel book but to be fair it only points out one literary spot in Paris when it briefly mentions La Coupole. Hemingway used to drink there, of course, as did Fitzgerald, Beckett, Sartre, and many other writers and artists. (There is a pretty handy list on their website.)
But Lunch in Paris doesn’t claim to be a literary book. It’s for foodies and general Francophiles. Some of Elizabeth Bard’s descriptions made me want to hop on a plane: “There are very few streets that don’t bear some small imprint of a grander, more gracious time – the swooping curve of a wrought-iron balcony or a fading stencil above the window of a boulangerie.” And there were some interesting observations on architecture, such as this one about Notre-Dame: “It is difficult to imagine that the same imposing towers and jutting gargoyles have been presiding over Paris since before the printing press, or the bubonic plague.”
Charles Dickens visited America and Canada in 1842. His itinerary is one that I would gladly follow even today:
Boston → New England → New York → Philadelphia → Washington → Richmond → Pittsburgh →
Cincinnati → Louisville → Midwest & St. Louis → Niagara → Toronto → Montreal → New York
You can read what he thought about each place in his book, American Notes.
I confess that I haven’t read it but that I’m currently searching for a really nice edition of this travelogue to add to my Dickens collection.
When I heard about the DVD series Dickens in America hosted by British actress Miriam Margolyes (I know she seems like a random choice, but she’s a huge Dickens fan), I decided to commit five hours of my life to watching all 10 episodes.
This should be obvious, but I think the only people who would like this series would be really, really big fans of Charles Dickens. But that being said, while I was a fan going in, I’m definitely an even bigger fan now and am more interested in reading everything he’s ever written.
Here are some of the highlights of the Dickens in America series:
- Watching the stops at the Omni Parker House in Boston, the Berg collection at the NYPL, and Niagara Falls. I’ll be doing a separate post on Dickens’ time in Canada, it’s just that good.
And now for the, um, lowlights:
I’m curious to hear what others think of this series. There are only two reviews on Amazon (one five star, the other only one star). If you’ve seen it, let me know your thoughts by posting a comment!
The last time I wrote about my growing literary travel library I mentioned that I was still searching for a good book about the literary side of Paris. Literary Paris: A Guide by Jessica Powell is exactly what I was looking for.
While I would prefer it in paperback, Literary Paris is a hardcover book with just the right amount of information on 30 writers who have spent time in Paris. Each profile tells you a little bit about the writer and how Paris played an integral part in his or her life. It’s illustrated with photos and paintings and all the sites mentioned include address and visitor information (including Metro stops), but I’d probably double check all that info since the book is now over five years old.
With Literary Paris you can visit the library where Proust worked as an honourary assistant, the home where Mark Twain lived and hosted dinner parties, and the restaurant where Balzac loved to eat.
This book will definitely be coming with me on my next trip to Paris.